Eight hundred mountain bikers will line up at the start line of the Trans Germany in Sonthofen, Germany, on Wednesday. About half of the participants are foreign. 445 German, 72 Dutch and and 50 Danish riders are among those registered.
The top favorite, however, comes from Switzerland. Christoph Sauser is returning to defend his title. He won previously in 2010 and 2011.
"I want the hat trick," Sauser said previously.
His toughest competition will likely be fellow Swiss rider Konny Looser, a Trans Germany newbie but winner of the 2011 TransAlp stage race; new-fledged German Marathon Champion Markus Kaufmann, who placed third last year and also won the best climber classifier; and Team Bulls athletes Tim Boehme and Thomas Dietsch.
Dietsch underlined his superb form by winning the Ardennes Trophy a few days ago. He, too his hoping for this third Trans Germany title after winning in 2008 and 2009.
"I trained very hard for this race. It's definitely one of my season's highlights, so I will certainly give my very best," said the four-time (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011) French National Marathon Champion Dietsch.
South Africa's very own David George and Max Knox as well as Belgium's Robby de Bock are three other international pros able to enter the podium.
In the women's race, defending champion Pia Sundstedt will also be back. She will battle Milena Landtwing, who finished in third position twice, in 2010 and 2011.
In addition, Trans Germany newbies Alexandra Hueni and American Sonya Looney are also strong racers for Sundstedt to watch.